GO EXPO’s high attendance signifies health of Canadian upstream industry


GO EXPO’s high attendance signifies health of Canadian upstream industry

BY KURT ABRAHAM, Executive Editor

ST. JOHN'S -- Canada’s oil and gas sector is doing well, overall, and proof of that is the significant upturn in attendance at the country’s largest energy event this year. The three-day Gas & Oil EXPO (GO EXPO), which wrapped up yesterday, registered an attendance gain of more than 40%, surprising even the show’s ecstatic organizers.

GO EXPO attendance hit 25,000 this week, along with an additional 4,000 exhibitors’ personnel, said Wes Scott, executive vice president of dmg events, the firm that organizes and runs the exhibition. That figure is up from 17,500 in 2011, when the industry and the economy were still emerging from the global recession. Organizers had hoped for 23,000, especially since the pre-registration figure was 20,000. About 680 firms exhibited at the event, covering 170,000 sq ft of space.

Scott said that he has a few ideas as to why GO EXPO exceeded expectations. “Alberta is increasingly recognized as an epicenter for technological advances and products and services, and Calgary is a major headquarters base in Canada for all the major energy companies, he explained. “The attendance at Gas & Oil Expo has been increasing over the years, due to the global importance of Alberta’s oil sands, as well as the fact that Canadian service companies continue to lead innovation, and the number of exhibitors showcasing these technologies continues to grow.”

Another factor contributing to the situation is that Canadian companies, both producers and service firms, are doing considerable business, south of the border, in the U.S. Many companies are involved in the various shale plays, where activity remains strong. Uniformly, many attendees on the GO EXPO show floor cited this as one of several factors contributing to their optimism, not to mention their own country’s increased oil activity.

Ironically, this will be the last year for GO EXPO, which has alternated years with its big brother, the Global Petroleum Show (GPS), also staged by dmg. Scott and his associates at dmg announced this week that GPS will take its usual next year, and then replace GO EXPO in 2015 and be staged every year thereafter. Attendance at GPS in 2012 hit a record 63,000, and organizers believe there is an appetite within the industry for the larger show every year.

Also helping to bolster GO EXPO this week was the simultaneous, adjacent convening of SPE’s Heavy Oil Conference–Canada. The conference attracted 1,500 or more professionals to a technical program encompassing 130 paper presentations. In a panel discussion during the conference, Chris Holly, the head of research and technology at governmental agency, Alberta Department of Energy, said that the industry continues to struggle with public perceptions. He said that many critics oppose all fossil fuels, and thus are not swayed by the industry’s environmental efforts, even when flawless.

Also on the panel, Eddy Isaacs noted that coal remains a significant factor in the global energy mix. For instance, even though U.S. officials like to brag that they are replacing coal-fired electricity with natural gas, the flip side of the coin is that the U.S. is exporting more coal than ever, particularly to Europe. Isaacs is chief executive of Alberta Innovates — Energy and Environment Solutions, an Alberta agency charged with energy and environmental research. Furthermore coal usage has risen rapidly in China and India over the past 10 years, continuing to make global greenhouse gas emission reductions difficult.

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